The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back on track.
Tampa Bay defeated the Indianapolis Colts 38-31 in Sunday's matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium. Leonard Fournette was dominant throughout the game and put the finishing touches on the comeback win with a 28-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds remaining.
The victors improved to 8-3 on the season with a second straight win as they continue to bounce back from a brief two-game losing streak.
Carson Wentz threw three touchdowns in defeat for the Colts, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end as they fell to 6-6 on the campaign.
They had an opportunity to force overtime after Isaiah Rodgers' long kickoff return following Fournette's touchdown, but Wentz's final heave was intercepted.
Notable Player Stats
- Tom Brady, QB, TB: 25-of-34 passing for 226 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Leonard Fournette, RB, TB: 17 carries for 100 yards, 3 TDs; 7 catches for 31 yards, 1 TD
- Rob Gronkowski, TE, TB: 7 catches for 123 yards
- Carson Wentz, QB, IND: 27-of-44 passing for 306 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND: 16 carries for 83 yards, 1 TD; 4 catches for 14 yards
- Jack Doyle, TE, IND: 6 catches for 81 yards, 1 TD
Leonard Fournette Steals the Show
It's essentially blasphemous to question Tom Brady, but the all-time great was at least under the spotlight coming into Sunday's game considering he threw a combined five interceptions in the past three contests.
Sunday's start didn't do much to quiet any potential lingering concern as the offense struggled with third downs and turned it over twice on a Chris Godwin fumble and another interception by Brady, this time to Isaiah Rodgers.
The halftime deficit would have been much worse than 10 points if it were not for Fournette, who found the end zone twice before intermission. One came on a reception, while his rushing touchdown happened after the Buccaneers defense gave their offense a short field by recovering a fumble.
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.<a href="https://twitter.com/_fournette?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_fournette</a> with the hat trick 🙌<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TBvsIND?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TBvsIND</a> on FOX <a href="https://t.co/oXKqMpIZ7u">pic.twitter.com/oXKqMpIZ7u</a>
Having a vintage Gronk day. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBucs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoBucs</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/RobGronkowski?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RobGronkowski</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TBvsIND?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TBvsIND</a> on FOX<br>📱: NFL app <a href="https://t.co/v677GlbZCG">pic.twitter.com/v677GlbZCG</a>
It was more of the same in the second half.
Fournette scored again on Tampa Bay's first possession after halftime following a long pass interference, and Ronald Jones II found the end zone after an interception. The Buccaneers also added a field goal after Nyheim Hines muffed a punt and were back in control by the fourth quarter even with Brady having a relatively quiet performance by his standards.
Indianapolis battled back to tie it but left far too much time for Brady to direct a winning drive. It appeared he did just that when he moved the Buccaneers into field-goal range, but Fournette had other ideas.
He broke through the line of scrimmage all the way to the end zone instead of simply settling for a field goal and was the best running back in a game that also featured Jonathan Taylor.
Wentz Electric in 1st Half, Turnover Machine in 2nd Half
The Colts are back in playoff contention despite a 1-4 start thanks in large part to Taylor's individual dominance.
The running back has taken over game after game with more than 100 rushing yards in six of the previous eight contests, including when he exploded for five touchdowns in a win over the Buffalo Bills. He figured to be a central part of the game plan Sunday so the Colts could have long, extended drives and keep Brady off the field.
Instead, Tampa Bay bottled Taylor up, but the Colts still seized a 24-14 halftime lead thanks to three touchdown passes from Wentz.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @Buccaneers
.<a href="https://twitter.com/ShaquilBarrett?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ShaquilBarrett</a> with the strip sack & recovery ‼️<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TBvsIND?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TBvsIND</a> on FOX <a href="https://t.co/qaALZrKsa6">pic.twitter.com/qaALZrKsa6</a>
Jack Doyle, Ashton Dulin and T.Y. Hilton caught the scores as the quarterback spread the ball around and took advantage of crowded boxes at times as the Buccaneers looked to slow the superstar running back after his recent stretch.
And then the second half started.
The game started to slip away when Wentz lost a fumble on a strip-sack by Shaquil Barrett and threw a pick to Antoine Winfield Jr. Throw in Hines' muffed punt, and it seemed like the Colts were in complete meltdown mode.
Indianapolis needed a spark down seven in the fourth quarter, so it turned to Taylor just in time. He carried the ball on eight of the Colts' 10 plays during a game-tying touchdown drive, including the final one that found paydirt.
Still, it wasn't enough as the defense allowed Fournette's touchdown run and Wentz fittingly threw an interception to Pierre Desir to end the game. It was his third turnover in a half that saw the Colts outscored 24-7.
Both teams are on the road in Week 13 when the Buccaneers face the Atlanta Falcons and the Colts play the Houston Texans.